Vocation

Understanding the concept of “Vocation” is important at every point of one’s adult life, but is especially crucial in the 3rd Chapter of Life.  Although the church has not addressed vocation much in recent history, this is not a new revelation. In response to the political and religious climate in his day, Martin Luther championed the value of the common person … non royalty or clergy.

Vocation is sometimes confused with occupation.  Yes, our occupation can be a vocation for us, but there is so much more.  God calls us first to be faithful people of God, and also, to heed the calling to live our daily life in response to the individual gifts that God has graciously given to each of us.  Our daily routines and relations are expressions of what God wants us to do and be, always with the awareness of how we can serve our neighbor.  This is the heart and soul of the understanding that became a “pillar of the Reformation” for Luther.

When we answer the call from God to live out our vocation, we feel a great sense of meaning and significance.  Frederick Buechner sums this up very nicely: Vocation = the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s need meet.

Vocation is also not a ‘one-and-done’ type of activity.  People may be called to be a friend, parent, grandparent, or a volunteer helping build homes or working with hospice.  The list is endless and is more about who we are than it is about what we do.  For example, grandparenting with an understanding that God is calling and empowering a person to serve as mentor, elder and “sage,” adds an exciting and crucial dimension to that relationship.

Today I understand vocation … not as a goal to be achieved but as a gift to be received.  Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of the true self I already possess.  Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to something I am not.  It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given to me at birth by God.
Parker Palmer